The Tampa Bay Conservancy, a land conservation organization, works to protect the region’s natural, agricultural and scenic heritage.
Our activities focus on Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Manatee Counties with the potential to explore protection initiatives beyond these boundaries.
You can support the Conservancy's work by making a donation, sponsoring an event, and by letting us know of potential conservation projects in your neighborhood. Please take a few minutes to learn more about us through this web site. We look forward to hearing from you.
What we do
The Tampa Bay Conservancy was founded in 2001 to protect the Tampa Bay region’s natural, cultural, scenic and agricultural heritage. We work with willing landowners, community groups, and state and local agencies to preserve natural and agricultural land. We are committed to providing landowners information regarding land preservation programs and providing solutions where appropriate.
Why conserve green spaces?
Better health and happiness – Time spent outdoors in natural spaces makes you feel good!
Stronger economy – Protected lands and waterways support jobs for outdoor recreation, forestry, tourism, and agriculture, and they can help minimize expensive storm impacts.
More food security – Those who grow our food need land that will stay in agriculture.
Cleaner air and water – Trees clean the air and natural landscapes filter and store the water we drink.
Did you Know?
One acre of protected land can save local communities an average of $380 in stormwater treatment costs annually (1).
One acre of mangroves can be worth more than $15,000 as a nursery for commercial fish (2).
Coastal wetlands provide storm protection valued at $23.2 billion per year by helping to reduce the severity of impacts from hurricanes in the United States (3).
In the city, trees can make you feel 7 years younger and $10,000 richer (4).
1.GreenSpace Alliance & Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. 2011. Return on Environment – The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Based on 10 economic reports from 2009 to 2016, prepared by the Trust for Public Land.
2.O. Aburto-Oropeza et al. 2008. Mangroves in the Gulf of California increase fishery yields (link is external). Retrieved from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
3.Robert Costanza, Octavio Perez-Maqueo, M. Luisa Martinez, Paul Sutton, Sharolyn J. Anderson and Kenneth Mulder. 2008. The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Hurricane Protection. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (link is external). Retrieved from NOAA
4.Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center. Omid Kardan, Peter Gozdyra, Bratislav Misic, Faisal Moola, Lyle J. Palmer, Tomáš Paus & Marc G. Berman. Nature Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 11610 (2015) doi:10.1038/srep11610. 09 July 2015
What is a Land Trust?
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by:
Acquiring land or conservation easements (or assisting with their acquisition), and/or
Stewarding/managing land or conservation easements
As a land trust, the Tampa Bay Conservancy fills conservation niches not covered by government land preservation programs or national and international non-profit programs. We can often provide solutions for landowners when government program timelines or acreage criteria may not meet their needs. TBC is a member of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and has adopted "LTA's Standard's and Practices" for ethical and sound land trust management.
TBC is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. This Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust, and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement.
The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more information, including a list of accredited land trusts, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
move to Florida each day.
new development every 24 hours
152 sq miles
natural and agricultural land lost to development each year
Our future quality of life depends on what we do today to protect our natural systems and maintain the environmental character of our region.
Conservation Planning Tools
These are some of the ways that land can be saved.
One way that a landowner can make sure their land stays natural into the future is to place a conservation easement on the land. This allows the landowner to know that the conservation value of the land will be protected forever, even after they sell it one day.
What is a conservation easement?
When you own a piece of land, you have a collection of rights to do certain things with that land. For example, you have the right to build on it (development rights), dig for gold, drill for oil (mineral rights), hunt, fish, etc. When you place a conservation easement on your land, you can no longer exercise rights that would compromise the conservation value of the land. In other words, you are ensuring that no one – neither the current or any future owner – can build a shopping mall or a bunch of houses on it, for example.
The conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization like the Tampa Bay Conservancy. This contract meets legal conservation standards and dissolves the development rights on some or all portions of the property. The original landowners who establish the easement (the grantor) may reserve some of those development rights, as long as they do not conflict with the overall conservation value of the land. For example, they may wish to reserve the right to build a house and barn in one area, or to continue hunting, for instance.
"Easements may be oriented toward agricultural production, natural systems, scenic vistas or any combination of these."
Conservation easements are usually donated (and often are rewarded with tax incentives) or are sometimes purchased. The easement is then held by a non-profit conservation organization like the Tampa Bay Conservancy, who has been granted the legal right to enforce the intentions of the grantor of the conservation easement. Easements may be oriented toward agricultural production, natural systems, scenic vistas or any combination of these. Conservation easements are perpetual and remain in effect when the land is bought, sold or passed on to heirs. This means they will last forever and can be enforced by a court of law. Having a conservation easement on a property does not necessarily result in public access.
A life estate is a legal mechanism that allows a landowner to transfer ownership immediately, while reserving the right to continue using the property during his or her lifetime. The difference between the full value of the property and the value of its lifetime use may in some cases be claimed as a charitable donation for federal tax purposes; the value of the property is also removed from the estate. As with conservation easements, a life estate can be either donated or purchased.
In some cases, the Tampa Bay Conservancy may elect to become the owner of a property in fee simple, either through a donation or purchase. This would allow the Conservancy to fully protect the environmental and resource-related values of the land and have direct responsibility for land management. In the case of a purchase, the funds would need to be raised through the community, as we do not typically have the monetary resources for such purchases ourselves.
In Florida, there are a number of public land acquisition programs – at both the state and county levels – which have been very successful and popular over recent decades. These programs usually have a “wish list” of lands. Some lands are valuable for conservation but not within their list of lands to conserve. The TBC can fill the gap by considering these lands for acquisition.
Mitigation is a process of offsetting the negative impacts of development or some other impact (a ‘debit’), on a natural area by recreating a positive effect on another area (a ‘credit’). Under very limited circumstances, a parcel of land may be protected under a conservation easement in order to provide mitigation for off-site development impacts. This method could only be considered after careful evaluation of the environmental impacts of the development project requiring mitigation. It offers the potential for financial compensation by the developer. Mitigation projects will only be considered if they meet the conservation goals of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.
Local Land Conservation Initiatives
Other Local Organizations
Land Trust Alliance
Land Trust Alliance supports local land trusts such as the Tampa Bay Conservancy, and works to increase both the quality and pace of land conservation by land trusts and their partners. LTA trains land trust practitioners, promotes best practices, encourages strategic conservation and advocates for incentives and funding for land conservation. The TBC is a member of the Alliance, and has received grant funding from the LTA, as well as a capacity building grant. Connect with them online at www.landtrustalliance.org.
Hillsborough River Watershed Alliance
The Tampa Bay Conservancy is an active participant in the Alliance, and is ready to play an active role in the effort to protect critical habitat within the Hillsborough River watershed.
The Alliance of Florida Land Trusts
The Alliance of Florida Land Trusts is a statewide network of over 27 environmental, community and environmental justice organizations focused on protecting Florida's environment and public health. The Alliance supports, trains and coordinates diverse groups and directly advocates to achieve equitable and sustainable solutions for our environment.
Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation
The TBC is a member of this coalition of more than 20 local, regional and national conservation organizations that work in the Gulf Coast region within the five Gulf of Mexico states – Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Their mission is to increase the pace, quality and permanence of voluntary land and water conservation within the coastal region. Connect with them online at www.gulfpartnership.org.